Cardinals start fast, but falter vs. New Mexico
Incarnate Word began coach Eric Morris’ era in perfect fashion with a touchdown on the game’s opening drive.
That was about as good as it would get for the Cardinals, though.
New Mexico quarterback Tevaka Tuioti passed for 327 yards and four touchdowns as the Lobos rolled past Incarnate Word 62-30 before 18,213 on Saturday at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M.
Tuioti, who passed for 192 yards in the first quarter alone, became the first New Mexico quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game since 1998. He engineered a Lobos offense that amassed 680 yards — 361 passing and 319 rushing — and connecting twice with Marcus Williams for TDs and once apiece with Elijah Lilly and Patrick Reed for scores.
“Most of them were mental mistakes,” said Morris, who was hired at UIW last December after five seasons as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech. “We lost some coverage on the back end, and that’s something you can’t do at this level. We need to communicate better on the back end.”
Incarnate Word (0-1) gave up 28 unanswered points after grabbing an early 7-0 lead, then bounced back to close within 28-16 at one point as freshman quarterback Jon Copeland completed 17 of 36 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown. He became the first UIW quarterback to throw for 300 yards since Trent Brittain passed for 313 vs. Lamar on Nov. 14, 2015.
Wide receiver Phillip Baptiste had six receptions for 112 yards, while running back Ra’Quanne Dickens had seven carries for 110 yards, including a school-record 90-yard TD. The Cardinals finished with 566 yards, but lamented missed scoring opportunities.
New Mexico reeled off 27 straight points after the Cardinals closed within 28-16 late in the second quarter, including Tuioti’s 51-yard TD pass to Lilly with 5 seconds left before halftime.
“One offense, we sputtered a couple times on penalties or self-inflicted wounds,” Morris said. “That’s something we’ve got to get over in a hurry or we’re not going to be as good as we know we can be. The penalties killed us and made us go backwards.”
UIW kicker Cody Seidel converted on a 29-yard field goal and wide receiver Brandon McDuffie, a Johnson graduate, recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD.